In October of next year, the IOC will meet in Copenhagen to determine the host city of the 2016 Games. The four cities they'll choose from are Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janiero and Tokyo. Today, Fourth-Place Medal handicaps the race to host the Games of the XXXI Olympiad. These odds are not based on the merit or worth of a host city's bid, but rather on the likelihood that they will be awarded the Games.
Pros: In 2016, it will have been 20 years since the United States has hosted an Olympics... American broadcast rights for the Olympics are up after 2012; the IOC will need an American-based Games on the slate to drive up bidding between NBC and ABC/ESPN.
Cons: The Euro-Centric IOC has a grudge against the U.S. (see: removal of baseball and softball from Olympic schedule).
Pros: The Spanish capital is a lovely, vibrant, cosmpolitan city...
Cons: ...But they shouldn't get too excited about the 2016 Olympics. Madrid's bid faces two big problems... Barcelona hosted the Games in 1992. A 24-year gap is fine for a large country like the United States, but two in Spain in a quarter-century is a bit much... London will have hosted the Games in 2012. It's tough to imagine the IOC staging consecutive Summer Olympics within 1,000 miles of each other.
Rio de Janiero: 3-2
Pros: Would be the first South American city to host an Olympics... Is hosting the 2014 World Cup...
Cons: Can Brazil afford to host a Games?... Is Rio ready for the major international stage?... Is the rampant crime and inept police department too much for the IOC?... My buddy Klinny was recently in Brazil's second most-populous city. He reports:
Although I routinely swallowed my passport for safekeeping during short romps through the city, Rio de Janeiro is certainly capable of providing a safe-enough environment for a summer Olympics. Consider that despite Rio's reputation as a crime-ridden city, millions still flock there every year for Carnival.
Pros: Has hosted Olympics before... World's largest city... Olympics haven't been held in Japan since 1964.
Cons: Would the IOC go to Asia twice in eight years?
Prediction: It's tough to see Tokyo or Madrid getting the call in 2016; their time will come in 2020 or 2024. That leaves Chicago and Rio. If there wasn't a TV contract to be negotiated, I'd say the IOC would try and get the Games to South America, despite the myriad problems that would likely accompany such a decision. But with NBC and Disney likely to get in a bidding war for the rights to broadcast the first American Summer Olympics in two decades, expect the IOC to follow the money to Chicago.